Note that this review is of the edited TV-14 version of the film. All thoughts below should be understood as belonging to this version of the film as a review of the uncut version would likely be more negative.
Time to look at a Heist film, hence the title. This genre can be quite good as we saw in Ocean’s Eleven and I’m confident that the Ant-Man film coming up will be good or decent. Unfortunately, Heist doesn’t live up to its name and it takes the genre way too literally. It plays out like a classic crime film and you can barely even call it a heist by the end. Seriously…the heroes just don’t do anything for most of the film.
The main characters were part of a gang, but they decided to stop robbing stores when their leader was caught on camera as he attempted to escape. Unfortunately for Joe, another mobster wants him to do one more job. It’s not exactly a request and Joe has no money so he can’t escape otherwise. He’ll have to comply, but can he really suceed in this job when he also has to deal with a watchdog on his tail? Not a literal one, but the mobster’s son/nephew/some kind of relative is assigned to watch. Joe doesn’t like this one bit!
Joe may not like that, but it’s safe to say that I don’t like Joe. The film flopped for several reasons, but let’s get into the biggest one right away. The writing. This film has more language than the average horror film and it’s very in your face. The heroes will swear in just about every scene and Joe went on a roll at one point where he would curse in just about every sentence that he spoke. I always found that provocative language is just a sign of bad writing. The writers don’t know how to engage the audience in the scene so they just use course language to get everyone to pay attention. It’s a bold strategy, but one that it always doomed to fail.
The characters also reuse the same words over and over again. “It’s burned Joe” No, it’s not burnt Bob” It’s burnt…burrrrrrrrrnt!” They say the word, burn, and its other variations many times as the film goes on. You’ll eventually start wincing and wondering what’s going on here. No exaggeration, they probably say this at least 20-30 times. It gets old very quickly. The conversations go round and round and round. The film may have had some hope otherwise, but it’s almost literally impossible to be a good film when the writing is this lousy. A by product of this is that every character is instantly unlikable so it’s safe to say that their potential is out the window.
No worries, this film wasn’t about to just make one critical mistake. There’s also a degree of fanservice involved as Joe sends his wife to entice one of the villains. The very thought of Joe sending her off on such a mission already shows you more than a little about his true character. It’s a pretty cheap trick and the villains don’t really buy into it anyway. The scenes with her and the villain are rather unnecessary and the heroes could have tried to trick them in a better way.
Those are really my main two complaints with the film, but they sure deal a lot of damage. Another factor to add in is that the film simply isn’t interesting. There’s barely even a plot as it goes on. Joe will try to trick everyone and keep his money, but the villains won’t let him and that’s really all that happens. There is also a lot of the usual plot hax of course, like a police guard being defeated so easily and the cop actually believing what she heard in a bar. Naturally, these things will happen I suppose. Joe is also given an awful lot of time by himself to paint his hold and hide it in two trucks considering that the villains are on to him….
If I had to pick a character that was at least a little likable or close to it, I would pick Joe’s main assistant. He’s essentially the bouncer and since Joe isn’t the greatest fighter around, the guy protects him. He gets a pretty happy ending and he did good in the big fight scenes. It’s a little hard to imagine how he was able to stay underwater so long without an obvious air pipe sticking out, but we’ve already questioned the film’s writing so let’s not go there…
There are actually some fight scenes, but none of them are very good. They’re simply standard punches and kicks, which won’t be winning the film any brownie points. What it needs to do is look back and reflect on the many things that went wrong so that a potential reboot can be made better. For one thing, serious and heist don’t really go together. If the heist is played too seriously, then there’s a chance that the film will overcompensate by making all of the heroes really unlikable and evil.
We need some kind of plot twist to show that they’re stealing from someone who’s actually crooked. At least they try not to murder any civilians, but it’s only a small start. (That reminds me that it’s hard to believe that they could grab a job at the local coffee shop and drug everyone’s coffee….) Ocean’s Eleven was the perfect example of how to do the genre and this film should have taken some notes. The main characters in Ocean’s Eleven (Some of them anyway) were pretty likable villains. You still do need to call them villains since they are robbing the place, but they’re doing it in a professional manner. These guys lacked professionalism at every corner. Granted, you need good writing to pull off what Ocean’s Eleven did, but you could say the same for just about every film. There’s no real soundtrack so we’ll have to skip that section.
Now, let’s think of how the film could have realistically been improved. 1. Each of the characters is professional and the writing is on par with
The Avengers GI Joe. 2. Get rid of the fanservice and the whole plot between the main villain’s relative and heroine. 3. Establish more of an actual plot. We need to know what they’re stealing and how they’re going to do it directly. Not in between all of the burnt comments. That’s not a lot of things, but it would have bumped up the score by at least 3-4 stars. That’s pretty good if you ask me.
Overall, Heist is terrible. It’s the kind of film where you’ll be counting down the minutes until it’s finally over. The ending has one of the main characters smirking, but you’ll be wondering why he’s smirking. One of his friends isn’t around anymore and his wife is gone. He got some money…but that’s hardly going to change things. If you want to see a good heist film, check out Ocean’s Eleven like I’ve been hinting or check out Dragon Ball Z, but be warned that it’s not actually related to the heist genre. Why did I recommend it? Simply because DBZ is pretty awesome. Now, we simply have to wait for the Ant Man film to see how it handles the slippery slope of being a heist film.